Like an unexpected Christmas gift, good news from France about Catholic support for marriage equality comes to us thanks to veteran Catholic blogger Terence Weldon, who blogs at QueeringTheChurch.com. Weldon reports–and, thankfully, translates–an editorial in the French Catholic magazine, Témoignage chrétien (Christian Witness), which supports France’s bill to legalize marriage equality. The Catholic hierarchy in France is vehemently opposing this proposal.
You can read the entire translation of the French article, entitled “Mariage pour tous, un progrès humain” (“Marriage for all, a mark of human progress”) at QueeringTheChurch.com. I’ve excerpted some of the stronger points here:
“Homosexuality has been persecuted or oppressed for many centuries. However, it is a sexual orientation as legitimate and worthy as heterosexuality. . . .
“Denying homosexuals the [marriage] contract would add yet another discrimination to those they have been subjected to, too often. That is why we believe it is just to open it to those who want to give a legal framework reinforcing their unions. It is up to religious denominations to reflect on the meaning of religious marriage, but it would be a serious political mistake to pit one against the other. . . .
“We do not believe that marriage for all destroys society. Divorce did not lead to the disappearance of marriage. A large number of divorcees remarry. If marriage for all is a way to greater integration in society, then there is no reason to hesitate.
“Humanity grows when citizens refuse to sanctify the ties of blood and give priority to the bonds of brotherhood that unite us. So what connects them, including within families, proceeds from adoption. Christ on the cross said to John, ‘John, behold your mother’ and to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ This is not the biological relationship, they are not blood ties that make us brothers and sisters. Our DNA is unique and common, it is a brotherly love that always pushes further the boundaries of our prejudices and our fears.”
The last paragraph quoted above contains an argument I have not seen in any of our American debates about marriage, and I think it is important to note it for two reasons. First, because it highlights the fact that a major fear of marriage equality is the fear that blood ties will not be the basis of society. Second, because it shows that basing societal structures on something other than blood ties has a firm foundation in the Gospel since Jesus explicitly, from the cross, blesses a non-traditional, non-genetic family structure.
While I don’t think we should succumb to the fears that people have of marriage equality, it is important for us to recognize them so that we can effectively respond to them. I suspect that the fear of non-genetic family structures is a strong and probably unspoken fear that many have. Responding, in faith, through the Christian imperative to treat all as family is a reasonable antidote, though one that may take a while for people to accept. After all, we are still trying to learn how to treat family members as family, and struggling daily with loving our neighbors as ourselves.
This line or argument has shown me that the work of moving others to accept marriage equality is much more rooted in spirituality and faith than in politics, and it is work that will need to be done even after marriage equality becomes the law of the land everywhere.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry